While it may seem that automakers are focusing more on fuel efficiency than performance these days, cars are actually getting faster and (in some cases) cheaper.
If you’re in the market for a performance car under $50,000, you might be surprised just how fast they can get.
Taking a look at 0-60 mph acceleration times, we have compiled a list of the Top 10 fastest vehicles available on today’s market for under $50,000 including destination.
The Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class has already done wonders for the German automaker in terms of sales, and the CLA 35 turns up the wick. Using a detuned version of the most powerful production four-cylinder out there, the CLA boasts a healthy 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Thanks to a quick-shifting DCT, the 35 sprints to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds, enough to earn it a spot on this list. The rest of the package includes typical Mercedes luxury, too. You can have it all for just $48,950.
Tying the Merc is Toyota’s reborn two-seater, the GR Supra. In four-cylinder form, the Supra may be one of the least powerful cars on this list—255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque—but it’s also one of the lightest. Combine that with a quick-shifting eight-speed auto and the Supra 2.0 is still capable of cracking off 4.8-second runs to highway speed. It’s also the only dedicated two-seater on the list, so if a sports car is what you crave, get $44,215 ready at your local Toyota dealership.
Surprised to see the standard Subaru WRX on the list and not the WRX STI? That’s because the WRX is lighter and doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that makes the STI a better handling machine. As a result, the WRX goes from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds and has a really attractive starting price of $28,420. But that’s not to say that the WRX is a better car than the STI. Sure it’s faster accelerating to 60 mph, but that’s about its only advantage when it comes to true sports car performance. The WRX features a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 265 hp and 244 lb-ft of torque while the STI is more powerful with 310 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. The other benefit the standard WRX has over its STI counterpart is that it’s more fuel efficient, getting a 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway rating. The STI on the other hand is rated at 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.
The Kia Stinger is still an overlooked performance option, even if it’s one of the quickest cars you can buy under 50 large. The GT model uses a torquey turbocharged 3.3-liter V6, pumping out 368 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. With AWD, that’s enough to rocket it to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, according to Car and Driver. Inside, you get a well-trimmed space for five. A starting price of $44,735 for the V6 model undercuts the comparative Germans by thousands.
The luxury performance S3 sedan from Audi is next on the list, with a 0–60 time of 4.5 seconds. Powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder the Audi S3 has 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque while getting an EPA-estimated 23 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. The S3 however is one of the most expensive car on our list with a starting price of $45,945 with standard quattro all-wheel drive and a dual-clutch transmission.
Want some good ‘ol American muscle? The Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack does its 0–60 sprint in 4.6 seconds at a cost of $43,820. Powering the American sports car is a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 engine with 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. Don’t expect good fuel economy however, as the Challenger R/T Scat Pack gets just 14 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. It’s not all about straight-line speed for the Challenger though, as it comes standard with Brembo brakes.
Want American V8 power but need four doors? The Dodge Charger SRT8 is exactly what you need. Given how potent the 6.4-liter Hemi V8 is—the same motor found in the Challenger—it’s no surprise that the Charger can hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. It is however, more expensive than the Challenger, with a starting price of $44,395.
The Ford Mustang GT ranks third, despite a very quick 0–60 mph time of just 4.2 seconds. The 5.0-liter V8 engine boasts 460 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque while getting a 15 mpg city, 24 mpg highway rating with a manual transmission. The Mustang is still the value choice on the list however, as only the WRX is more affordable.
BMW‘s main competitor to the Audi S3 is the M240i, both in terms of price and performance. It’s a coupe, so space is at a premium, but the Bimmer bites back with a more powerful 3.0-liter turbo-six. With 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, this all-wheel drive rocket sprints to 60 mph in a manufacturer-estimated 4.1 seconds. We suspect that’s conservative, like many modern BMWs, but for now, that’s enough to earn it the penultimate spot on this list. It also just squeaks in under the limit, at a starting price of $49,545 including destination.
The popular Chevrolet Camaro SS is at the top of our list, scoring an even 4.0 seconds on the dash to 60 mph. The Camaro 1SS can be had from $38,695 in manual-transmission form, but you’ll need $40,290 for the 10-speed auto to match that headline time. Under the hood is a 6.2-liter V8 engine with 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque while getting a modest 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Of course there’s the more powerful ZL1 with 650 hp, but that’s well above our $50,000 price range.
December 06, 2021 – Revamped list based on current rankings and new cars.
Become an AutoGuide insider. Get the latest from the automotive world first by subscribing to our newsletter here.